Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro on Joining the LBJ School

With his 43rd birthday less than two weeks away, Julián Castro can feel confident in his vast achievements so far. At 26, he became the youngest city council member in San Antonio’s history, and would later serve as three-term mayor of his hometown. He was secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama from 2014 until the end of his term. And the possible 2020 presidential candidate recently padded his impressive resume, joining UT’s LBJ School as a dean’s distinguished fellow and fellow of the Dávila chair in international trade policy.

In his position, Castro will lead a series of what LBJ School Dean Angela Evans calls forums—three-hour sessions on public policy-making through the lens of housing.

“It’s not going to be a formal class that people sign up for because that would limit its exposure,” Evans says.

Evans approached Castro after the 2016 election, but his staff told her that he would speak with her after the administration changeover in January. After the inauguration, Evans and Castro spoke, and the appointment was created. Castro had previously delivered the 2014 LBJ School commencement address, and given the keynote address at the school’s celebration of HUD’s 50th anniversary in September 2015.

“I’ve long admired the work of the LBJ school,” Castro says, “and the excellent faculty.” Castro’s position will be non-tenured, and he he will have the rank of a clinical professor. Castro told the Austin American-Statesman he understood his salary would be about $145,000 annually.

“The most import thing I want him here for is to interact with the students,” Evans says. “Large policy challenges facing our cities, infrastructure, housing, economic development—he got that firsthand at HUD. I am just so pleased. He will add a lot of value to the school.”

The first forum, Castro says, will look at housing policy from a “30,000-foot perspective. Then it’ll delve into the roles that the federal, state, and local governments play in housing opportunity.”

When asked what he hopes to impart upon the UT community, Castro laid out two teachable visions.

“Number one: good policy matters. It’s easy today to forget that because of what’s going on up there in Washington and what people watch on news,” he says. “Secondly, whether somebody is well off or not, they should be concerned about housing policy, especially in a city like Austin that has an affordable housing crisis. What they do with housing policy is important to Austin, Texas, and the United States.”

Just a week into his new position, Evans is already excited about having Castro on campus. She says he showed up a few weeks before his September 1 appointment to work out some details.

“He’s so willing to do whatever we need him to do,” she says. “He’s so generous with his time and he’s a great listener. We’ve had him here a couple weeks, and he’s a really good colleague.”

Photo by Lauren Gerson via Wikimedia Commons

 

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